When you are at home and your phone is at 1% battery, there is no reason to panic. There are enough sockets to charge your phone. But when you travel this becomes a luxury. Airports do have charging points, but these are usually occupied by TikTok-watching people.
If you are hiking and you see that one bird that is pretty rare and you want to take a picture, but your camera battery is empty? Nature doesn’t have charging points for you. Unless your name is MacGyver, you are just disappointed and feel stupid that you didn’t charge the camera before you left.
We need power for everything these days; phones, cameras, drones, tablets, headphones, action cams, and much more. One needs more battery than the other, but they will all drain at some point. To avoid problems we always carry a power bank.
In this article, I tell you what to look at, what to keep in mind, and the limitations of a power bank. In the end, it’s up to you what you want to buy and/or carry along with you.
What is a power bank?
A power bank is a portable device used to charge your electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It is essentially a battery that you can use to recharge your electronic devices when you don’t have access to a power outlet.
Powerbanks usually have one or more USB ports that you can use to connect your device’s charging cable. They come in different sizes, capacities, and shapes, and the capacity is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh). The higher the mAh rating, the more charging capacity the power bank has.
When you charge a power bank, you typically do so by plugging it into a power source such as a wall outlet or USB port. Then, when you need to charge your electronic device, you connect the device to the power bank using a USB cable. The power bank will then transfer power to your device, allowing you to charge it even if you don’t have access to a power outlet.
Overall, power banks are convenient and useful for anyone who needs to stay connected and powered up while on the go.
Things you should know
Although a power bank sounds like a really neat device you should bring along, you need to keep in mind the mAh. Yes, the higher this number, the more you can charge. But some airlines don’t allow power banks (or batteries) with a very high mAh.
Powerbanks need to be in your carry-on luggage, not your checked-in baggage! The same goes for batteries or devices with internal batteries. Some rules are not very clear, because I can put my electric shaving device in my checked-in baggage, but not the controller of my drone.
Anyway, the reason you need to carry power banks in your carry-on is so they can check how much mAh the power banks are together. If you exceed the limit of 27.000 mAh (100wh) then you need to turn them in. This is done for your and our safety since they can explode or leak while the pressure in the plane changes.
Also, when something happens to the circuits in the power bank, flight attendants can fix the problem rapidly. If the power bank was to be in the checked-in baggage, nobody can reach it.
So, before you run to the nearest store and buy a power bank with the highest mAh, make sure you don’t have to fly or downgrade your power bank needs. But also check your airline, because the rules can vary between airlines. Sorry, we are here to give you information, not to make it easier, because that’s almost impossible.
Size does matter
There are so many types of power banks out there. Some are really expensive, some really cheap. Some have the same specs but are totally different. It also really depends on what you want to do with the power bank. If you want to charge your phone once, or your camera, you can do it with 10.000 mAh. With this, you can charge your phone twice, according to the websites. But I charged my phone multiple times and still had some left for a tablet.
Keep in mind that power banks can be really big and heavy.
The pen is for scale; it’s not a power bank! Both other items in the picture are power banks. The larger one is 20.000 mAh and the smaller one is 10.000 mAh. The large power bank is an Anker super charger. It works really well, but is heavy and big, making it not easy to bring along on a hike.
The smaller one is newer to our family: Xtorm Power Bank. Smaller, lighter, but less mAh. But we love this one more than the bigger Anker. All we need is a backup just in case one of our phones dies.
A power bank needs to be recharged after you used it (duh). You do this by plugging the power bank into a socket. This could take a while since the battery is big and can (in case of the Xtorm) charge two or more phones while it’s full.
Always make sure the power bank is 100% charged before you leave. We usually charge it at night after we used it. This way we always know it’s 100% full when we leave.
Just make sure you connect the right cable to the right USB port, otherwise, it will never charge. Happened to me once, won’t make that mistake again. You can’t damage the power bank, it just doesn’t charge.
Some other considerations
Never charge a power bank when the temperature is under 5 degrees or over 40 degrees. This could seriously harm the batteries inside the device.
Charge the power bank once every three months, even when you don’t use it. This is good for the device.
For best performance and longer lifetime do charge your power bank only up to 80% and discharge only up to 20%.
Don’t drop the power bank. Of course, this can happen by accident but know there is a circuit board inside the power bank that is fragile.
Don’t charge the power bank and a device (i.e. phone) at the same time. Although it sounds logical, the power bank battery can be affected due to excessive heat production in both devices.
Charging your laptop
Many new laptops have a USB-C PD (Power Delivery) or Thunderbolt-3 port. You could connect a power bank to this port to charge the laptop. Although you could use a regular power bank for this, there are also power banks specially made for laptops. These are way bigger and heavier.
Because it’s possible I wouldn’t recommend it. I mean, the only time I really needed a power bank for my laptop was when I forgot to charge the device. I never walked in the jungle and thought to myself “I need to charge my laptop!”
The times I was on an airfield I usually didn’t have time to actually work on the laptop, since I was always on the move through security or to a gate (we always have the farthest gate).
If you really need to send an e-mail or check something online, you better off using your phone or tablet.
We always bring a fully charged power bank with us when we go for a hike. It took us a while to find the right one, but the Xtorm power bank is a really nice, small, and light charger that fits in a pocket. We rarely use them, except when we take a vlog in a car for example. The camera uses a lot of battery and the car couldn’t charge it properly, actually draining the battery. With the power bank, we could last longer.
Maybe you use a power bank for other devices or reasons or maybe you have other tips or tricks for electrical devices? Let us know in the comments!
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